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Mariana G. Figueiro

Mariana G. Figueiro, Ph.D., is Director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) and Professor of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has also served as Light and Health Program Director at the LRC since 1999.

Mariana G. Figueiro

"Today, many people think of light as just another architectural detail, and lighting solutions have tended to be designed for the limited range of things that people do in a particular space.

We are looking at a future in which the light we receive will become more personalized, customizable, and tailored to our own individual needs. My research explores how this new approach to lighting can improve sleep and mood, reduce depression, and enhance our alertness and feelings of vitality."

Light and Health: overview of research and applications

In addition to enabling us to see and navigate in the space, light can promote entrainment of circadian rhythms to the local time on earth and promote. An overview of the latest field and lab research on the non-visual effects of light will be presented and design tips on how to implement this research in energy-effective and aesthetic pleasing ways will be discussed.

Research Focus:

Photobiology research, light and health, human factors in lighting, non-visual effects of light, circadian phototransduction, effects of light on sleep, effects of light on alertness, lighting for older adults


Dr. Figueiro is well known for her research on the effects of light on human health, circadian photobiology, and lighting for older adults. She holds a bachelor's in architectural engineering from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and a master's in lighting and a doctorate in multidisciplinary science from Rensselaer. Her master's and Ph.D. dissertation research focused on the human circadian response to light. She is the author of more than 80 scientific articles in her field of research. Her research is regularly featured in national media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American. Dr. Figueiro has also brought attention to the significance of light and health as a topic of public interest through her 2015 TEDMED talk.